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9 community projects receive money from environmental violations

A quarter of the penalties DNREC collects each year for violations of environmental regulations return to the communities where those violations occurred —  through grants to local nonprofits.

This year nine nonprofits received this money to pursue community environmental projects.


Two are in the city of Wilmington.


The Central Baptist Church Community Development Corporation is pursuing a low-income solar power and energy efficiency pilot program with its $20,000 grant. The organization plans to install solar on one home and build an education program from there.

“With energy efficiency, with solar we can bring people’s bills down,” said Jeffrey Richardson of project partner Imani Energy. “Then we work with residents and particularly residents there to do education in the community about the impact, so that they’ll be getting it from a person who has experienced it in the community.”

He says rates of solar power adoption tend to be low in low-income communities. “Not because I think people don’t want it — but because there are cost issues, and there is a lack of really solid policies now to open this up for low-income people.”

The Delaware Center for Horticulture will use its $20,000 grant to install native plantings on Delaware Avenue, which will serve as one of its job training sites.

“These landscapes provide a number of environmental and social benefits as well,” said DCH Executive Director Vikram Krishnamurthy. “In terms of not only greening our cities but mitigating stormwater runoff as well.”

Another recipient is the Delaware HELP Initiative —  which installs LED and solar-powered porch lights in high-crime areas and does energy efficiency check-ups in homes. Government Relations Director Howard Stafford says the nonprofit received $20,000 from DNREC for its “Milford Strong” campaign.

“In Dover, in Seaford and in Milford … the focus has been on the outside of the houses," he said. "What this grant from DNREC does is it allows us to go inside of the houses and start looking and identifying hazards inside the house."

The organization will use the funding to identify health and safety risks within Milford homes — including lead paint, mold and pests that exacerbate asthma, or tripping hazards— then refer residents to relevant assistance programs.

The HELP Initiative’s Charles Kistler says the nonprofit’s energy efficiency efforts and light bulb replacements have saved energy at hundreds of homes in Seaford and Dover. They hope to serve 412 homes in a higher-crime area of Milford with their programs over the next two months, adding the “healthy homes” program to some for what Kistler calls a “holistic” approach.

The HELP Initiative plans to take their porch light and energy efficiency programs to the City of Wilmington in August.

A total of nearly $160,000 was allocated from the Community Environmental Project Fund. Other recipients include Calvary Christian Academy, Delaware Wild Lands, The Delaware Museum of Natural History, the City of Rehoboth Beach, the City of Newark and the Delaware Community Foundation.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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